The Process: Deploying an Electronic-Testing Software at Bergen Catholic High School

September 17, 2015 Al Spiegel

Bergen Catholic High School is an all-boys secondary school that prepares students to be 21st-century learners. In our 2:1 (MacBook and iPad) environment, computer-based testing seemed the most logical format for assessment. Bergen has been a Lenovo 1:1 school since 2002–2003. We are starting year two of a four-year transition to MacBooks and iPads. All faculty at Bergen now have MacBooks and iPads, as do the classes of 2018 and 2019. In addition, all of our students can access their textbooks online, and some of our teachers are developing iBooks. We consider ourselves on the forefront of educational technology.

Why implement ExamSoft? Imagine deploying nearly 7,000 final exams online with no paper and no pencils. It’s exam-taking, 21st-century style.

So how did we do it? First and foremost, we trained our teachers. They are smart people and were eager to learn and help one another. Here are some of the ways we prepared them:

  1. We trained as many people as possible. We trained two teachers in each department to train their departmental colleagues.
  2. We created student accounts for each teacher.That way, he or she could get the full feel of SofTest, from test taking to viewing results on the portal.
  3. Teachers and students learned together. They learned how to use SofTest together. Students took practice tests. Teachers observed other teachers giving assessments. Collegiality was at its finest.
  4. Teachers took one another’s tests. Doing so provided practice and proofreading at the same time.

In three months, our students and teachers made great strides.

For as long as I can remember (at least since my freshman year in 1991), Bergen Catholic administered final exams by subject (Monday,English; Tuesday,Math, and so on). Seniors take their exams in May, approximately two to three weeks before underclassmen, while underclassmen are still in class. If a senior is not exempt, he may take an exam during periods 1 and 2 and then another during periods 3 and 4. Trying to schedule rooms and conflict exams is a nightmare. Let’s not forget the work of copying exams and placing Scantrons and essay paper in envelopes for a proctor. Yikes!

Our solution – The Gym.

bergen-catholic-high-school-softest

Seniors took all of their exams in the gym. They were scheduled by period. For example, students took their day 1, period 1 exam and their day 1, period 2 exam on Monday. We set up tables of six. We provided long power strips for students who needed to charge their laptops. Technical support was available at a table in the middle of the gym. Ample loaner laptops were available for students whose laptops were not working or were forgotten.

What problems did we encounter? None!

powercordHere is the power strip we used. Amazon – $29.95

Below are two examples of classroom layouts. The layouts were designed by the teachers to maximum exam integrity.

classroom-proctored-softest-secure
security-ipad-laptop-final-examination

The effort to deploy electronic testing software was a success. Not only did the technology work, but our teachers collaborated, learned, and tried something radically new. For this coming academic year, we are eager to dive into the exam-taker data, review all of our assessments, and move forward.

To hear about the entire implementation process at Bergen Catholic, you can view Al’s full webinar here.

About the Author

Al Spiegel

Albert Spiegel has led Bergen Catholic's 1:1 laptop program since 2006, providing technical support and instructional coaching to both students and teachers. He is also responsible for the school's various data systems including ExamSoft. Al builds Bergen’s master schedule and coordinates the report card process. In addition, he supervises the Computer Science department and teaches AP Computer Science. He received his BBA in Information Systems and an MS in Educational Technology from Iona College as well as a MAEd in Administration and Supervision from St. Peter’s University. In his free time, Al serves as an adjunct professor of education at Saint Peter’s University and an adjunct professor of information systems at Iona College.

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